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Applaws UK
Applaws UK

How do you know if your cat is in pain?

Cats are generally stereotyped as cute, cunning and crafty little creatures, but they’re also exceptionally good at masking their emotions.

Unfortunately, that can make it incredibly difficult as pet parents to gauge whether your feline is actually feeling fine or whether they’re suffering in silence.

Understanding your kitty’s state of mind, and their overall health and wellbeing, can often feel like a game of charades, as we’re reliant on particular actions and behaviours to evaluate their pain.

If you observe any changes in their demeanour, keep a close eye on them and consult your veterinarian, who may be able to diagnose the painful problem before prescribing a treatment.



The main signs that your cat is in pain 


  • Protection: If your poor pet is guarding a part of their body, or moving rather sheepishly, then it’s a giveaway sign that they are in chronic pain. A protective stance, or a reluctance to put weight onto a limb, shows that they are carrying an injury that requires some attention.


  • No contact: Cats are snuggable, loveable animals, who normally appreciate the warmth and comfort that their pet parents emanate. If your feline usually likes to be held, stroked or cuddled, but is uncharacteristically refraining from such contact, then the likelihood is that they’re experiencing some pain or discomfort.


  • Vocal/tearful: Cats don’t cry crocodile tears, so if they’re watery around the eyes and conveying clear signs of upset or sadness, then pay attention to what could be causing them such distress. They might also be noisier than normal, or they might even growl when approached.


  • Detachment: If your normally outgoing cat starts to pass on playtime, and their activity levels begin to drop significantly, then it might be time to consult your veterinarian. Their spring-like leaps onto furniture may have come to a halt, they might refuse to go outdoors, engage with toys and they could become more withdrawn or unsociable.


  • Lack of grooming: Our pets love having a bit of a pamper session, but our felines rely on their flexibility to get to all the hard-to-reach areas. If you notice a change in your kitty-cats grooming habits, if their routine has lessened, or perhaps they’re unable to clean themselves at all, then they’re likely concerned about aggravating an injury.


  • Eating habits: If a cat’s appetite has altered then they might require a little TLC. If they’re off their food, or they don’t appear to be eating anywhere near as much, then they’re more than likely nursing an injury or ailment. 


Other indicators include: Abnormal gait, mood/temperament change, postural change, excessive licking of a particular body part, dropped head, inability to urinate, flicking their tail.


When should you seek support from a vet? 


Understanding your cat’s distress signals is vital for their continued health, happiness and general well-being. Recognising behavioural changes at the earliest point, and seeking expert advice and guidance from a vet, can be crucial to their recovery.

As a pet parent, you know your cat’s character and quirks better than most, which puts you in the best place to pick up on any abnormalities or anomalies in their regular day-to-day activities.

Pain and discomfort can manifest itself in many different forms and cats are able to convey their displeasure in several ways. A dental disorder could be the root cause of the problem, it might be a severe soft tissue injury, a fracture, internal damage, an infection or abdominal pain.

If you identify any trauma, or if you’re worried that your pet might be experiencing severe pain or discomfort, then help is always at hand and it’s just a phone call away.

Consulting with your vet, and discussing the key core issues, will lead to an examination, diagnosis, and treatment programme, if required. This process, along with assessing whether any medication is needed to aid rehabilitation, will help get your cat back up to scratch and allow them to live a happy, pain-free life.


Don’t let potential warning signs go unchecked 


Our cats are quite predictable when it comes to their everyday routine, therefore it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to familiarise yourself with their personalities, behavioural traits and niches/nuances.

Changes in their demeanour, their persona or in the manner in which they vocalise should all be noted, observed and explored, as should any irregularities in their eating patterns, grooming habits and whether they become unusually less tactile.

It would be extremely unlikely for your cat to show most/all of these signs at once, so you would need to keep your eyes, or ears, peeled for one or two of the aforementioned warning signs. 

If you suspect your cat is experiencing even the most subtle signs of pain or unease, it is best to book an appointment with a vet to have them examined by an expert as soon as possible.


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